Alexa

Flood evacuees move into enclave built for Katrina

 Debra Emery holds her grandson Cayden Peebles as she watches floodwater rise around her mobile home in Vicksburg, Miss., Monday, May 16, 2011. A sand...
 Brenda Hynum, left,  hugs her daughter Debra Emery as she watches floodwaters rise around her mobile home in Vicksburg, Miss., Monday, May 16, 2011. ...
 Workers move a hose to pump seeping river water over a berm outside the Ameristar Casino as a pair of push boats move cargo up the flooding Mississip...
 Workers try to force a tarp in place against a flood wall protecting downtown  Vicksburg, Miss., Monday, May 16, 2011. The flooding Mississippi river...
 Charlotte Flory, right, of Lettsworth, La., and Shirley Hagger of Simmesport, La., pray on a picnic table in a picnic area that is flooding at a boat...
 John Harrington sits in the back yard of his friend's house as he watches the rising waters of the Atchafalaya River approach the property in Melvill...

Mississippi River Flooding

Debra Emery holds her grandson Cayden Peebles as she watches floodwater rise around her mobile home in Vicksburg, Miss., Monday, May 16, 2011. A sand...

APTOPIX Mississippi River Flooding

Brenda Hynum, left, hugs her daughter Debra Emery as she watches floodwaters rise around her mobile home in Vicksburg, Miss., Monday, May 16, 2011. ...

Mississippi River Flooding

Workers move a hose to pump seeping river water over a berm outside the Ameristar Casino as a pair of push boats move cargo up the flooding Mississip...

Mississippi River Flooding

Workers try to force a tarp in place against a flood wall protecting downtown Vicksburg, Miss., Monday, May 16, 2011. The flooding Mississippi river...

CORRECTION Mississippi River Flooding

Charlotte Flory, right, of Lettsworth, La., and Shirley Hagger of Simmesport, La., pray on a picnic table in a picnic area that is flooding at a boat...

APTOPIX Mississippi River Flooding

John Harrington sits in the back yard of his friend's house as he watches the rising waters of the Atchafalaya River approach the property in Melvill...

A farming community built for evacuees of Hurricane Katrina has become a haven for families driven from their homes by river flooding that has hit states from Arkansas to Louisiana.
Twenty-six families have moved into the enclave because their towns were threatened by flooding from the Mississippi River and smaller rivers that spring from it. The haven, informally known as Canadaville, was created by a Canadian industrialist had a onetime population of around 200 residents displaced by the 2005 hurricane, but it had dwindled to just a handful by the time people from nearby towns began looking for a place to wait out the flood.
Tonya Nelson, 39, one of the few Katrina evacuees still there, said she recognized the look on their faces.
"I can understand what they're going through because I've been through it myself," she said.
The Mississippi River is swollen by snow melt and heavy spring rains. To take pressure off levees surrounding heavily populated New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the key Morganza Spillway, choosing to flood more rural areas with fewer homes.
Some have flocked to the 900-acre (365-hectare) development that was officially named Magnaville when it opened a few months after Katrina because it was created by the head of Canadian auto parts maker Magna International. Hurricane-displaced families could live rent-free if they passed a background check and followed the rules.
Before the flooding, only four of the 49 houses were being used. When Simmesport Mayor Eric Rusk learned the water would rise above flood stage in his town, he asked Magna Industries if evacuees could use some of the vacant houses. The company agreed.
Simmesport is well above the Morganza Spillway. Thirty percent of the Mississippi's water is allowed into the Atchafalaya River, which runs past the town. So with the Mississippi at record levels, the Atchafalaya is high, too. The spillway opening has compounded flooding upriver from the structure, said Joseph Suhayda, a retired Louisiana State University engineering professor.
Rusk said flood victims can live there for 60 days rent-free as long as they pay their utilities. Officials think all the vacant houses will be used. Many of the families are from the Simmesport and Spring Bayou communities.
"I think we're going to fill up," said Shane Carmichael, a Magna official who oversees the project.
Carmichael said he wasn't surprised by Rusk's call because the development has housed evacuees from other disasters such as Hurricane Gustav in 2008.
Ashley Michot, 27, said she, her husband, and their three children left the Marksville area Monday, two days after water was released over the weekend at the Morganza spillway near Baton Rouge. They got the evacuation order over the weekend, though water hadn't yet reached their house. Officials say most residents have heeded the call to evacuate.
"It's crazy. My grandpa's home he built 27 years ago is going to get wiped away," she said.
Elsewhere, residents were still packing up. Bernadine Turner, who lives in a mandatory evacuation zone near Krotz Springs, spent a third day Monday moving her things out. Water was not expected to reach the town about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baton Rouge for several days, but most residents were taking no chances.
"There's no doubt it's going to come up. We don't have flood insurance, and most people here don't. Man, it would be hard to start all over," she said.
In New Orleans, workers inspect the levees daily when the water is high to look for potential trouble spots. The levees there _ which are not among those that failed along canals after Hurricane Katrina _ have survived high water before and will survive this latest test, city officials said. The opening of the Morganza has stopped the river's rise at New Orleans, but the relief valve sent water gushing into the mostly rural Atchafalaya River basin.
___
Online:
http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/bcarre/missriver.asp
___
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Kevin McGill and Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans; Mary Foster in Tensas Parish, Louisiana; and Holbrook Mohr and Shelia Byrd in Mississippi.